Hyperloop CEO reveals where the revolutionary project is right now

The world’s first Hyperloop is likely to be built in India and construction will start at the end of next year, Virgin Hyperloop One CEO Jay Walder told Yahoo Finance.

“One of the big projects that we've been working on right now is in India — it's to build a route from Mumbai to Pune,“ Walder explained in an interview on the sidelines of a national roadshow in New York City. “That's about a [75-mile] route… the first phase of that project will be [7.5 miles]. … I think there’ll be shovels in the ground by the end of 2020. So it's really exciting. It's happening. It's here now.”

The Hyperloop system is a futuristic mode of transportation that would put passengers in pods that would magnetically levitate and travel through vacuum tubes across states, or even countries.

The mode of transportation would move “670 miles an hour,” Walder said. “But it's going to be really smooth. You could literally hold a cup of coffee if you're if you're doing it.”

The Hyperloop race

Interest in the concept was first sparked by a whitepaper published by Tesla and SpaceX Founder Elon Musk in 2013. The promise was simple: to build a safe, fast, cheap, efficient mode of transport that was resistant to weather events or natural disasters.

Aside from Virgin Hyperloop One, Hyperloop Technologies is also in the race to build the world’s first mass transit Hyperloop.

And Virgin Hyperloop One is clearly ahead. Aside from the first actual track that’s going to be built in India next year, the company has already built a test track in Nevada, near Las Vegas. The pod that was used in that test, XP-1, was on display in New York this week (pictured above).

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A full-scale passenger Hyperloop capsule is presented by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies on October 2, 2018 in El Puerto de Santa Maria. - A hyperloop is a shuttle that travels on magnetic rails, somewhat like a train, but which runs in a tube with little or no air. In theory, hyperloops could allow travel faster than the speed of sound. Virgin Hyperloop One, backed by British tycoon Richard Branson, has been testing its hyperloop system in Nevada in the United States with speeds reaching 240 miles (386 kilometres) an hour, and is planning three production systems in service by 2021. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP) (Photo credit should read CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP/Getty Images)
Virgin Hyperloop One aims to be the first working hyperloop in the world. One of the company’s biggest projects is a 75-mile route from Mumbai to Pune, India
A Virgin Hyperloop One test pod will be at the American Royal World Series of Barbecue at the Kansas Speedway on Saturday.
Las Vegas NV July 7/21/2018: Virgin Hyperloop One test site near Las Vegas NV showing the first complete test track for the XP-1. Virgin Hyperloop One formerly known as Hyperloop One, is an American transportation technology company that was formed in 2014, and reorganized and renamed in 2017, working to commercialize the high-speed technology concept called Hyperloop.
A man touches the rear of a full-scale passenger Hyperloop capsule unveiled by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies on October 2, 2018 in El Puerto de Santa Maria. - A hyperloop is a shuttle that travels on magnetic rails, somewhat like a train, but which runs in a tube with little or no air. In theory, hyperloops could allow travel faster than the speed of sound. Virgin Hyperloop One, backed by British tycoon Richard Branson, has been testing its hyperloop system in Nevada in the United States with speeds reaching 240 miles (386 kilometres) an hour, and is planning three production systems in service by 2021. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP) (Photo credit should read CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP/Getty Images)
Richard Branson talks next to Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem during the Hyperloop One presentation aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, April 29, 2018. DP World's chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said Sunday that Virgin Hyperloop One would launch a freight service called DP World Cargospeed. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Virgin Hyperloop One

Hyperloop tubes are displayed during the first test of the propulsion system at the Hyperloop One Test and Safety site on May 11, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The company plans to create a fully operational hyperloop system by 2020.

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images,)

Elon Musk speaks at the Hyperloop pod competition on January 29, 2017. To accelerate the development of a functional Hyperloop prototype, a high speed transportation system that Musk proposed in 2013, SpaceX staged a student pod competition.

(Kate Allen/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

An employee carries out final checks on a vacuum system before delivery to the Hyperloop transportation system technology applications company at the Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum GmbH factory in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday, June 30, 2016. In 2013, billionaire Elon Musk first unveiled his vision of a transportation system in which capsules hurtling on a cushion of air would whisk people at 700 miles per hour, traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in half an hour.

(Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The rLoop team shows their INFIRA pod during the SpaceX Hyperloop competition in Hawthorne, California on January 29, 2017. Students from 30 colleges and universities from the US and around the world are taking part in testing their pods on a 1.25 kilometer-long Hyperloop track at the SpaceX headquarters.

(GENE BLEVINS/AFP/Getty Images)

Sand rises from the track as a test sled is slowed during the first test of the propulsion system at the Hyperloop One Test and Safety site on May 11, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Hyperloop One stages the first public demonstration of a key component of the startup's futuristic rail transit concept that could one day ferry passengers at near supersonic speeds.

(JOHN GURZINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

People photograph the interior of a Hyperloop tube after the first test of a propulsion system at the Hyperloop One Test and Safety site on May 11, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The company plans to create a fully operational hyperloop system by 2020.

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images,)

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk(C) speaks during the SpaceX Hyperloop pod competition in Hawthorne, California on January 29, 2017. Students from 30 colleges and universities from the US and around the world are taking part in testing their pods on a 1.25 kilometer-long Hyperloop track at the SpaceX headquarters.

(GENE BLEVINS/AFP/Getty Images)

The EDGE pod, the smallest hyperloop pod designed by Keio University in Japan, is displayed during the SpaceX Hyperloop competition in Hawthorne, California on January 29, 2017. Students from 30 colleges and universities from the US and around the world are taking part in testing their pods on a 1.25 kilometer-long Hyperloop track at the SpaceX headquarters.

(GENE BLEVINS/AFP/Getty Images)

Robert 'Rob' Lloyd, chief executive officer of Hyperloop Transport Technologies Inc., gestures as he speaks during Automobility LA ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. The Connected Car Expo and LA Auto Show press days have merged to form AutoMobility LA. The show is open to the public November 18-27.

(Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A winch supports screws before being inserted into a Dryvac compressing screw vacuum pump at the Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum GmbH factory in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday, June 30, 2016. In 2013, billionaire Elon Musk first unveiled his vision of a transportation system in which capsules hurtling on a cushion of air would whisk people at 700 miles (1,130 kilometers) per hour, traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in half an hour.

(Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

An employee holds a bearing ring during the assembly of a Dryvac compressing screw vacuum pump at the Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum GmbH factory in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday, June 30, 2016. In 2013, billionaire Elon Musk first unveiled his vision of a transportation system in which capsules hurtling on a cushion of air would whisk people at 700 miles per hour, traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles in half an hour.

(Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A Hyperloop tube is displayed during the first test of the propulsion system at the Hyperloop One Test and Safety site on May 11, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The company plans to create a fully operational hyperloop system by 2020.

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images,)

A recovery vehicle and a test sled sit on rails after the first test of the propulsion system at the Hyperloop One Test and Safety site on May 11, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Hyperloop One stages the first public demonstration of a key component of the startup's futuristic rail transit concept that could one day ferry passengers at near supersonic speeds.

(JOHN GURZINSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

People look at a demonstration test sled after the first test of the propulsion system at the Hyperloop One Test and Safety site on May 11, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The company plans to create a fully operational hyperloop system by 2020.

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images,)

A test sled is propelled along a set of tracks during the first test of the propulsion system at the Hyperloop One Test and Safety site on May 11, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. The company plans to create a fully operational hyperloop system by 2020.

(Photo by David Becker/Getty Images,)

The pod displayed in the booth for MIT Hyperloop, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, during the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition in Hawthorne, Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 29, 2017.

(REUTERS/Monica Almeida)

The pod cover for team Openloop, a six school alliance including Northeastern, Memorial University, Princeton, Cornell, Harvey Mudd College and the University of Michigan at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition in Hawthorne, Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 29, 2017.

(REUTERS/Monica Almeida)

Team members from WARR Hyderloop, Technical University of Munich place their pod on the track during the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition in Hawthorne, Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 29, 2017.

(REUTERS/Monica Almeida)

A student from the Delft University of Technology inspects the team's pod before it enters the Hyperloop test track. To accelerate the development of a functional Hyperloop prototype, a high speed transportation system that Musk proposed in 2013, SpaceX staged a student pod competition.

(Kate Allen/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Robert 'Rob' Lloyd, chief executive officer of Hyperloop Transport Technologies Inc., gestures as he speaks during Automobility LA ahead of the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. The Connected Car Expo and LA Auto Show press days have merged to form AutoMobility LA. The show is open to the public November 18-27.

(Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Hyperloop versus maglev system

While the Hyperloop is at least a year out from being fully operational, other countries have made much more progress in developing similar systems.

In China, the Shanghai Maglev has been fully operational since 2014, shuttling between Pudong Airport to the outskirts of the city. The country has also built the body prototype for a high-speed maglev in May this year, and is expecting it to go into commercial production in 2021. Japan is also developing its own maglev trains, parts of which are ready for commercial operation, and the system is expected to link Tokyo and Nagoya by 2027.

The primary difference between the maglev and the Hyperloop systems is that the latter uses the same maglev concept but requires a special tube to be built for the pods to be transported.

“Our pod literally floats on a bed of air, but unlike maglev systems that are being used around the world in different places in an open environment, like in closing in an enclosed environment, we create a much faster and a much more environmentally friendly system,” Walder said.

“The tube, which is a vacuum, reduces air drag, and makes it much more energy efficient,” he added. “And the tube, depending on the geography, may literally be covered with solar panels, which allows us to be able to work on a carbon-free, carbon-neutral basis …. it's four times more efficient than Amtrak.”

Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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